Creativity and Wellbeing Week: Jamming at The Hive

20th May 2024


In 2023/24, 168 hours of live music have been shared in the hospitals in Edinburgh and the Lothians thanks to the partnership between Music in Hospitals & Care and Tonic Arts. With it, the music has brought joy and connection to many, creating positive experiences in times of challenge and pain.

50 hours of this music took place as part of the weekly ‘jam sessions’ at Royal Edinburgh Hospital in The Hive, which have been running for over ten years. It is an activity space in the hospital grounds that patients from all wards can access. The space is set out with musical instruments including a drum kit, guitars, bass guitars, ukuleles and microphones for singing. Each chair in the space also has some hand-held percussion instruments for anyone who wants to play along from their seat. Patients and staff are encouraged to join the musician to perform a song of their choice. Staff and patients have worked hard to create a positive and supportive environment and the music is well attended with many coming every week during their hospital stay.

One patient from the Orchard Clinic, a medium secure forensic unit at the Royal Edinburgh Hospital, started attending the jam sessions at the Hive on a regular basis following admission. Staff noticed that he was quite anxious and didn’t have a lot of self-confidence but had taken an interest in the live music. After attending a few times and observing the music, he approached staff and asked to perform with the musician but stated that he didn’t want to be left to sing or play by himself as he didn’t have the
confidence to do that. Rachel Bais, a Café Worker at The Hive, explained that he was a very accomplished singer and guitarist but lacked the confidence needed to perform on his own.

The musician Charlie Gorman used his gently supportive approach to motivate him to perform, slowly encouraging him to take the lead. Gradually, returning each week, he began to sing by himself and play guitar by himself. Rachel said “You could see his confidence growing and his anxieties going away when he was performing because it was just him in that moment.”

After recognising his talent and the how much his confidence had grown, staff decided to invite the patient to perform at Hivefest, a festival held in the hospital grounds for the wider hospital community and open to the public. The patient successfully performed by himself to an audience of 150 people. This patient has since been discharged and Rachel hopes he is doing something music related as he certainly has the skills, and now the confidence to do so.

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